Scars

In her post “Scarred for Life,” Antique Mommy Tina shares with the world (via Good Housekeeping magazine, you go girl!) the reason why, in her own words, “You can keep your Mederma, I like my scars. They tell the story of who I am….”

Today, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, I had an opportunity to reflect on the significance of such scars in my own life … and in that of my children.

It has been three years since we celebrated Christopher and Sarah’s baptism (the adoption papers were actually finalized in August, but we celebrate their baptism day as the day they officially became part of our family, and God’s as well). Memorial Day weekend may seem like an odd choice for this celebration, since it is usually a holiday associated with death. And yet, it is also a time for memories …. and as any foster-adoptive family knows, our lives are defined by the memories. (The one to the left here is one of my favorite early memories of Christopher … I think it was one of the first times I heard him laugh out loud.)

Memorial Day Weekend … when we remember loved ones who are no longer with us, either because they died (like my husband’s sister and all our grandparents), or because they are no longer a part of our everyday lives (like their birth family and my extended family). They are gone, and yet the slate is not wiped entirely clean … these people continue to touch us (for better or worse) each time something happens to bring them back, if only in the mind’s eye.

After church today we visited a place that has big memories for Sarah, the “brown park” with the big red swing she used to ride for what seemed like hours when she was just a year old, kicking her feet and waving her hands. She loves that baby swing, though she is getting much too big for it now.

Tomorrow will be another big memory day as we go to the Toledo Zoo … We went there for Halloween 2002, about three months after we first got the kids. Baby Sarah in her little cow outfit, Christopher the bee, and Cheyenne the fairy princess. I have this photograph sitting on my desk, and occasionally Sarah will come up and put one grubby finger on it. “This was when Cheyenne was living with us.”

“Yes, it is,” I agree. Then she’ll go off and draw a picture of herself holding hands with her big sister on the white board I keep in the corner of my office for just such an occasion.

Someday we may have to answer questions about why we didn’t try harder to keep their siblings with us. Nor do I doubt that some of the scars my kids carry have to do with losing so much, so early. The only question is what form those scars will take.

I’m hoping that if we love them enough, are patient enough and open enough, their scars will turn them into compassionate individuals. I hope they will give us the benefit of the doubt, and trust that we made the best decisions we could, given the information we had at the time.

On this Feast of Corpus Christi, I’m offering a little prayer, that the scars my children have received over the years — some inflicted before they came to us, some the result of our own inexperience or simple human error or even my own sinful impulses — will not be the memories that define them.

Body of Christ, purify and sanctify, heal and preserve, and keep us in our woundedness from drawing away from one another. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen!
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